Live Mic: Best of TPL Conversations features curated discussions and interviews with some of today’s best-known and yet-to-be-known writers, thinkers and artists, recorded on stage at one of Toronto Public Library’s 100 branches.
Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair
Alan Hollinghurst discusses his sixth novel, The Sparsholt Affair, with author Dimitri Nasrallah. The Sparsholt Affair explores the changing attitudes towards homosexuality in England through the lives of two men: David Sparsholt, a teeneager briefly attending Oxford University during WW2, and his openly gay son, Johnny Sparsholt, who comes of age in London just as homosexuality is being decriminalized.
Alan Hollinghurst is the author of the novels The Swimming-Pool Library; The Folding Star; The Spell; The Line of Beauty, winner of the 2004 Man Booker Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Stranger’s Child. He has also received the Somerset Maugham Award, the E. M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. He lives in London.
Dimitri Nasrallah is the author of three novels. He was born in Lebanon in 1977, during the civil war, and lived in Kuwait, Greece, and Dubai before moving to Canada in 1988. He’s won Quebec’s McAuslan First Book Prize, the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and was nominated for CBC’s Canada Reads and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and went on to become a critical and commercial success in French. A film adaptation is currently in pre-production. He is currently translating Éric Plamondon’s 1984 Trilogy from French to English.
Alan Hollinghurst appeared in conversation with Dimitri Nasrallah on March 23, 2018 at Toronto Reference Library's Appel Salon.
Saeed Jones: How We Fight for Our Lives
Saeed Jones is the author of Prelude to Bruise, winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award. The poetry collection was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as awards from Lambda Literary and the Publishing Triangle in 2015. Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. He earned a BA at Western Kentucky University and an MFA at Rutgers University-Newark. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.
Tajja Isen has written for BuzzFeed, Longreads, Literary Hub and various other publications. She is a co-editor of the forthcoming essay anthology House on Fire: Dispatches from a Climate-Changed World and a contributing editor at Catapult. She has also provided voices for dozens of cartoon characters.
This conversation took place on November 21, 2019 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon.
Abbi Jacobson: I Might Regret This
When Abbi Jacobson announced to friends and acquaintances that she planned to drive across the country alone, she was met with lots of questions and opinions: the most common one… why? Abbi had always found comfort in solitude, and needed space to step back and hit the reset button. As she spent time in each city and town on her way to Los Angeles, she mulled over the big questions — What do I really want? What is the worst possible scenario in which I could run into my ex? How has the decision to wear my shirts tucked in been pivotal in my adulthood?
Abbi Jacobson sat down with Rachel Giese to discuss this collection of anecdotes, observations and reflections–all told in the sharp, wildly funny, and relatable voice that has endeared Abbi to critics and fans alike.
Abbi Jacobson is one of the series creators, executive producers, and stars of Comedy Central’s critically acclaimed hit show Broad City. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the illustrated book Carry This Book, and has also created two coloring books: Color This Book: New York City and Color This Book: San Francisco. She is the host of A Piece of Work, the Webby Award-winning podcast from the Museum of Modern Art and WNYC Studios.
Rachel Giese is an award-winning journalist and the editorial director of Xtra, the world’s oldest LGBTQ2 media organization. Her book Boys: What it Means to Become a Man was named one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 favourite books of 2018. For years, her weekly column on politics, pop culture and feminism appeared in Chatelaine, where she was the editor-at-large. She is also a regular contributor to CBC Radio and the Globe and Mail. Giese has taught journalism at Ryerson University, and U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs. She lives in Toronto with her wife and son.
This conversation took place on June 16, 2019 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon.
Sally Rooney: Normal People
Normal People was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and won the Costa Novel Award. Sally Rooney discusses her sophomore novel, a coming-of-age story set in contemporary Ireland. An exploration of mutual fascination, friendship and love, Normal People takes us from the first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t. She is heard in conversation with bestselling and critically acclaimed author, Sheila Heti.
Sally Rooney was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta and The London Review of Books. Winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, she is the author of Conversations with Friends. In 2019, she was named to the inaugural Time 100 Next list and she is the current editor of The Stinging Fly. Her latest novel, Normal People was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Costa Book Award, making her the youngest ever recipient of the award.
Sheila Heti is the author of eight books, including the novels Motherhood, How Should a Person Be?, Ticknor, and the story collection, The Middle Stories. She was named one of "The New Vanguard" by The New York Times; a list of fifteen women writers from around the world who are "shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century." Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages. She has spoken at the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, the New Yorker Festival, the 92nd Street Y, the Hammer Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and at universities across North America, and festivals internationally.
On Civil Society: #MeToo
In February 2017, Canadian journalist Robyn Doolittle published Unfounded, her 20-month-long investigation into how police across Canada handle sexual assault allegations. Her work forced changes around the country, and prompted federal plans for better police training and oversight, including funds pledged to combating gender-based violence.
In October 2017, American journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor published their New York Times investigation into sexual abuses by Harvey Weinstein, which helped start the global #MeToo movement. In 2018, Twohey and Kantor were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for this work.
Here, Twohey and Doolittle sit down with Canadian journalist Garvia Bailey on what it was like to publish their investigations, and what has happened since.
Robyn Doolittle is a Globe and Mail investigative journalist. Her reporting on Mayor Rob Ford for the Toronto Star made headlines around the world, won the Michener Award for public service journalism, and her number-one bestselling book on the topic, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, earned her the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Her Unfounded series, which investigated how police services handle sexual assault cases, was one of the most viewed and read stories in the Globe's modern history. She was named Journalist of the Year in 2017 by the Canadian Centre for Journalism.
Megan Towhey is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter with The New York Times and co-author of the book SHE SAID: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite A Movement. The book takes readers behind the scenes of Twohey's and Jodi Kantor's 2017 investigation of Harvey Weinstein, which helped trigger the global reckoning on sexual misconduct. Along with a team of reporters who exposed sexual harassment and abuse across industries, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2018.
Twohey has reported on Donald J. Trump, helping to reveal allegations of sexual misconduct against him, his business interests in Russia and illegal efforts to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with him.
Garvia Bailey is the co-founder of the Jazzcast.ca, a scrappy, smart, community driven platform for jazz enthusiasts and those who like to dig into the stories of the colourful musicians who inhabit that world. Before founding jazzcast, Bailey was host of Good Morning, Toronto on JazzFM.91, and prior to that spent 10 years with the CBC as an arts journalist/producer, and broadcaster. While with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Bailey served as the host of a variety of radio programs, including Big City Small World and Canada Live, as a columnist for Metro Morning and as a contributor at cbcmusic.ca, CBC Television, as well as a producer on the documentary programs Global Village and Outfront.
Barry Lopez: Surviving What’s Coming
Barry Lopez discusses Horizon, his most personal and expansive work to date. Moving through the author’s travels across six regions of the world from Western Oregon to the High Arctic; the Galapagos to the Kenyan desert; from Botany Bay to ice shelves of Antarctica. In this revelatory journey that searches for meaning and purpose in a broken world, Lopez voices concern, frustration along with humanity, hope and love, and forces readers to see the world differently.
Barry Lopez is the author of two collections of essays, several story collections, Arctic Dreams, for which he received the National Book Award, Of Wolves and Men, a National Book Award finalist, and Crow and Weasel, a novella-length fable. He contributes regularly to both American and foreign journals and has traveled to more than 70 countries to conduct research. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundations and has been honored by a number of institutions for his literary, humanitarian, and environmental work.
Alissa York is the internationally acclaimed author of Mercy, Effigy (short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), Fauna and, most recently, The Naturalist (winner of the Canadian Authors’ Association Fiction Award). York is also the author of the short fiction collection, Any Given Power, stories from which have won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Guardian, Brick magazine, Canadian Geographic and elsewhere.